Welcome to Melbourne Central Station, where on Wednesday night the first of Ted Baillieu’s Protective Services Officers started duty, protecting passengers from the hoards of evildoers who descend on the station after 6 PM.
Meanwhile at the next station over, some vandals managed to make their way into Parliament Station after the last train, and spray paint the walls with graffiti.
So how the hell did the the vandals get in there? Getting in via the tunnels after the last train has run is the most likely explanation, since this security vulnerability has been frequently abused by both graffiti vandals and urban explorers since the City Loop has opened.
The evidence of previous trespassers inside the tunnels is easy to see from a slow moving train – many tunnel walls have are covered with scrawled graffiti instead of bare concrete. You can also see the evidence on websites dedicated to urban exploration in Australia, where I found a dozen or so photos taken inside suspiciously familiar looking railway tunnels.
An example of urban explorers making their way into the City Loop is this photo, supposedly taken back 2004, showing a Connex liveried Comeng train at the junction of the Clifton Hill and City Circle Loop tunnels, just a short distance from Parliament Station. (to avoid any unwanted attention I’m not going to link back to the original photographer)
So if someone back in 2004 got into the City Loop tunnels, why aren’t we seeing every man and their dog down there today? The reason is a round of security upgrades carried out in 2005/06 for the Commonwealth Games.
The most obvious change was the addition of dozens of new CCTV cameras at each underground stations and the installation of new directional signage inside the tunnels themselves. Another less visible change was the upgrade of alarm systems to each emergency exit, and improved motion detector systems to pick up trespassers trying to walk down the tunnels.
So did the security upgrades work? The number of people sneaking in to take photos seem to have dried up, but Wednesday’s vandals still found a way to get in. The security arms race continues…